Investments in Greece are maturing

By | May 8, 2023

Investments in data centers and submarine fiber optic cables are gradually maturing, moving closer to the goal of Greece becoming a data transfer and storage hub.

Existing mobility supports the expectation that, in 4 or 5 years, our country will be the number 2 hub in the Mediterranean, after Marseille (now number 1) depending on the available capacity.

According to information, the East to Med data Corridor (EMC) submarine cable system is about to start construction, with a total investment of 1,000 million. euro.

In the joint venture that created EMC, 50.5% is held by Saudi Telecom (the Saudi provider of telecommunications services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a major provider in the Middle East), 25% by PPC, 20% Cyta (the OTE of Cyprus) and 5% Telecommunication Telephony Satellite Applications – TTSA (a telecommunications company headquartered in Greece with offices in Cyprus and Switzerland).

The EMC is divided into two phases, the first will unite Europe – Saudi Arabia and the second Saudi Arabia – Asia. The construction cost of the first phase is estimated at 380 million (total investment 500 million if the financial cost is included). It will be stranded in Crete Chania and will take 3 years to complete

A milestone in the developments that have been launched has been the acquisition of Lamda Hellix by Digital Realty -one of the largest companies in the world in the field of data centers, with more than 310 facilities in 45 countries- and the investments it has made in the country since then.

Starting with the first two data centers, Athens 1 and Athens 2 (the brainchild of Lamda Hellix, a Greek company until its acquisition), Digital Realty will soon put Athens 3 into operation, construction has started on Athens 4 (estimated to be finished in 2024) while it has bought the land (a necessary condition for the creation of data centers) in Koropi (that is, where its facilities are) to start the procedures of 5.

At the same time, preparatory work is underway for the start of construction of the Digital Realty data center in Crete. Its first phase will be completed in 2025.

According to Digital Realty, its investments in Greece will have a total impact on the Greek economy of the order of 1.1 billion euros over a decade. For the three new data centers under construction (two in Athens and one in Crete) it is estimated that it will allocate around 300 million as part of its broader planning in the region as it invests simultaneously in Israel, Rome and Barcelona.

Telecommunications market executives report that more and more submarine cable systems (there is talk of at least 15) implemented by technology giants like Facebook or by international telecommunications providers, put Greece on the map of their investments.

The puzzle of this ecosystem is completed with the business movements of Greek companies, such as Lancom, the ADMIE Group (Independent Electricity Operator), PPC, etc.

ADMIE through its subsidiary company Grid Telecom and in collaboration with Telecom Egypt have announced (December 2022) their participation in the Crete branch of the large telecommunications cable under the name 2 Africa.

2 Africa is scheduled to be completed in 2024 and will have a total length of more than 45,000 km. It will go around all of Africa passing through Asian countries such as Iran and India and connecting them with Greece, Spain, France and Italy. Its owners are China Mobile, MTN, Meta (Facebook) Orange, Saudi Telecom, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC.

The planned branch of the cable of Greek interest will be stranded at Tymbakki on the southern side of Crete, connecting the island to the east with Port Said in Egypt and to the west with Genoa in Italy and Marseille in France.

The new IONIAN fiber optic network connecting Greece with Italy was recently completed. It was built by Islalink (a Canadian venture capital firm, Fiera Infrastructure, a global mid-market infrastructure investor with a presence in Toronto, London and New York) to provide wholesale connectivity services and is already serving its first customers.

IONIAN consists of a 330 km long submarine cable connecting the Italian city of Crotona with Preveza in Greece, and is extended by two terrestrial fiber optic rings connecting Athens and Thessaloniki with Milan and Rome in cooperation with Grid.

Lancom in Heraklion, Crete, is building Balkan Gate Crete, which is due to be completed by the end of 2024. Balkan Gate 1 in Thessaloniki is Lancom’s third data center, the largest neutral data center in Northern Greece and one of the most larger, more advanced and energy efficient. in Southeast Europe it started operating at the beginning of 2022 and the perspective is to expand further.

Microsoft’s investment for the creation of three data centers in the East Attica region is in the implementation stage, while Sparkle (Telecom Italia) which maintains 4 data centers in Greece (three in Athens and one in Chania) is renovating and upgrading its data center in Crete to be, among other things, one of the centers for the new blue submarine cable.

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